Cyclase-associated protein 2 (CAP2) is a conserved protein that is found up-regulated in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). By using zebrafish, combined with HCC cell lines, we further investigated the role of CAP2. The zebrafish CAP2 sequence was 60% identical to human CAP2 with 77% homology in the C-terminal actin-binding domain, and 58% in the N-terminal cyclase-binding domain. CAP2 expression was observed during zebrafish development and was preferentially expressed in the skeletal muscle and heart. Knockdown using two different morpholinos against CAP2 resulted in a short-body morphant zebrafish phenotype with pericardial edema. CAP2 was observed co-localized with actin in zebrafish skeletal muscle, and in the leading edge of lamellipodium in HCC cell lines. CAP2 silencing resulted in a defect in lamellipodium formation and decreased cell motility in HCC cell lines. Strongly positive expression of CAP2 was observed in 10 of 16 (63%) poorly, 30 of 68 (44%) moderately, and 2 of 21 (10%) well differentiated HCC. CAP2 expression was significantly associated with tumor size, poor differentiation, portal vein invasion, and intrahepatic metastasis. Our results indicate that an important conserved function of CAP2 in higher vertebrates may be associated with the process of skeletal muscle development. CAP2 also played an important role in enhancing cell motility, which may promote a more invasive behavior in the progression of HCC. These findings highlight the link between development and cancer.
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